Dangerous heat sending Michiganders to area hospital emergency rooms

Jul 4, 2012

Sweltering temperatures are becoming life-threatening in some parts of Michigan.

Dr. Michael Clark is an emergency physician at Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital.    He says a growing number of people showing up in the ER are suffering from the excessive heat gripping the region.

Clark says one patient, a young construction worker, needed 8 liters of saline to restore his lost body fluids.  That’s more than 2 gallons.

Clark says people suffering the heat may find themselves debilitated by cramps, heat exhaustion, and then heat stroke.

“Heat stroke is usually (body) temperatures that may get up to 104, 105…108, 110…that is life threatening,” says Clark.

And it’s not just people working outside at risk.

He says daytime temperatures in the upper 90’s are causing serious problems for the very young, the very old and people with pre-existing medical issues.

“Their body works on a narrow edge of a fence. And (the heat) just pushes them over. So people who have emphysema, COPD, asthma….they get into trouble real fast,” says Clark.

Clark says with daytime high temperatures in the high 90’s to near 100 degrees, fans just don’t help.  The doctor recommends spending a few hours in an air conditioned place to escape the heat each day.   

The excessive heat is not expected to break until Saturday.   And even then, the daily high temperatures are expected to stay in the mid 80’s.

Nationwide, about two dozen deaths have been blamed on the heat.